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Standard Bank Insights 9 April 2021

Africa’s Covid-19 recovery should be underpinned by sustainability

By Sola David-Borha, Chief Executive of Africa Regions at Standard Bank Group

As Africa moves past the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, we need to ensure that governments and the private sector work towards a recovery plan that is underpinned by sustainability and responsible investments. To do this, policymakers need to prioritise investments in areas such as healthcare, financial inclusion, renewable energy, sustainable infrastructure, and education.

As Africa moves past the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, we need to ensure that governments and the private sector work towards a recovery plan that is underpinned by sustainability and responsible investments. 

Authorities in many markets are implementing stimulus measures aimed at kickstarting the continent’s economies and limiting the damage caused by the pandemic. This represents a unique opportunity to strengthen the foundations of our economies and ensure they are more resilient against future shocks. To do this, policymakers need to prioritise investments in areas such as healthcare, financial inclusion, renewable energy, sustainable infrastructure, and education. 

The pandemic has highlighted the need to reimagine Africa’s education sector to ensure that most children do not fall behind in a global pandemic or crisis, and that the youth are equipped for an increasingly digital world. Covid-19 has also exposed the gaps in the continent’s healthcare systems, and reminded the world once again about the importance of environmental sustainability. The financial services sector has an important role to play in ensuring that Africa’s recovery is a sustainable one. 

Against this backdrop, the UN Principles for Responsible Banking could play an important role in guiding the way forward, measuring progress, and holding the sector to account. It has been a year since 130 banks, including Standard Bank Group, launched the Principles – the first-ever global sustainability framework for the banking industry. As a founding signatory, we assisted in the development of the Principles.